Skip to Main Content

University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Sociology 480: Methods of Field Research: Qualitative Methods: Finding Journal Articles

Searching for Sociology Articles- Database & Index Quick Links

But my topic is interdisciplinary...where should I search?

If your topic overlaps with other fields of study, and you need to find articles from that discipline, you may need to search other databases in addition to sociological databases. Below are a few links to help you find these databases.

How to find Journal Articles

What type of search should you do if...

  • You have an article citation and need to find the full-text of the article at the University of Illinois. Answer:
  • You want to search for articles on a certain subject or topic. Answer: Use an Article Abstract/Index Database to search by keywords/subjects. Start with a subject-specific database (see Quick Links on the left to get started).

Journal types- Peer-reviewed (refereed) vs. not peer reviewed

Peer Reviewed journals (sometimes called Refereed) contain articles which were reviewed by "expert readers" or referees prior to the publication of the material. After reading and evaluating the articles, the referee informs the publisher if the document should be published or if any changes should be made prior to publication. These materials are significant to the research and the literature of most academic fields because they assure readers that the information conveyed meets the standards of professional scholarship established in that particular field.

If a peer review is blind, it means that the identities of authors and reviewers are anonymous during the peer review process, with the intent to minimize favoritism or bias when articles come up for publication.

Many databases allow searchers to limit results to peer reviewed sources. Look for these options either at the start of the search, or in the results display screen (this varies by database). Look for the terms "peer reviewed" or "refereed," and beware the label "scholarly," as some sources (such as trade journals and magazines) might be labeled "scholarly," but are not peer reviewed.

Still not sure whether a particular journal is peer-reviewed? Check the journal's page on the publisher's website. Usually there is a statement about the journal's review process in the instructions for submission and/or the "about this journal" section.

Journal Types: Subscription vs. Open Access

Traditionally most scholarly journals and databases have been available by subscription, and the library pays an institutional subscription price to make the content of these journals available to our users. This is true even for online journals (browse the library's online journal subscriptions using the Online Journals & Databases tool). Online subscription journals are licensed for access only by University of Illinois users via on-campus IP address or proxy authentication. This is why you need to access online databases and journals via the links on the library webpages, which will grant you access after you log in with your netID and password from off-campus.

Open Access journals are freely available to anyone with internet access, and do not require a subscription. Many of these journals are still peer-reviewed and still represent sound scholarship, although there is some debate and controversy in the scholarly community over quality control and reputation of open access versus subscription journals. Some subscription-based journals have both paid and open access content- some articles are freely accessible, while others require a subscription. To read more about Open Access and what it means for readers and for authors: 

You can search and browse open access journals through the: 

Many open access titles are also available in the library's Online Journals & Databases tool, and when you click on the "Discover Full Text" box of an open access title in a database.

Discover Full Text

Discover Full Text

After you've found an article citation in a database, how do you go about getting your hands on the actual article? Some databases have full text articles in them already. In this case, you should see a link to either an HTML or PDF document. If the full text isn't available in a specific database, you should see a button that looks like this:
"Discover UIUC Full Text Linking"

Clicking this button will open a new browser tab or window and will search the Illinois library subscriptions and online catalog. This new page will tell you if we have electronic access to the specific article you need.

If it indicates that we have online full text, click the link to get to the article.

If the Discover page doesn't show access to online full text, click the link for "Holdings in VuFind" to search the library catalog for print holdings of that journal.

UIUC doesn't have this article- now what?